A day after Jerrick Harding finished his college basketball career with a 33-point performance in Boise, Idaho, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport and, very soon after, all sports.
Since then, Weber State men’s basketball’s scoring king has been doing everything he can to be ready for his pro career.
“A couple days went by and things started to get worse, so I just went home to spend time with my family in case it got really bad,” Harding said of the period in mid-March when life changed for everybody. “It’s a frustrating process because the virus really messed up everything that was going on, but I’m just trying to stay in shape and stay ready.”
After a senior campaign marred by injury, Harding says he feels good and has mostly consistent access to gyms to prepare for his next step. He said he avoids pickup games and the extra people that involves, but works with an on-the-court trainer and a weight-room trainer in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas.
It’s been a waiting game. The NBA and other leagues around the world have spent the past few months trying to figure out how to finish their seasons, so rookie scouting has been somewhat on the backburner. Without knowing when he’ll get to the other side and officially be a professional basketball player, Harding works like he’s a pro and prepares for that day, trying to build strength for the longevity to have a successful career.
He felt a glimpse of what that will be like Thursday when his agent called him to go over the details of his first contract offer.
“It was super exciting. I’ve been working toward this my whole life,” Harding said. “It was definitely exciting to hear that somebody wanted me to come play for them because that’s been my dream my whole life.”
About a month ago, Harding says, he participated in a video interview with the Utah Jazz. Other NBA teams have reached out to his agent, as have teams from overseas. As foreign leagues finish play and the NBA nears its restart date at the end of July, Harding expects things to pick up soon.
But it will still be a long process. In a normal year, the NBA Draft would already be in the rearview mirror. As of now, the 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for Oct. 16.
“It’s really just waiting. I’m not in any rush, because no league is in any rush. Nobody knows what’s going to happen a month from now, so there’s no rush,” he said. “I feel like I’ll be fine in the long run, just be patient and leave it in God’s hands.”
CHANGES AT WEBER
Harding says he’s kept tabs on Weber State’s recruiting this offseason, which brought nine new players onto the roster. He said he’s excited to see what the new group will do, and will root for his friends who will play elsewhere next season.
“I don’t try to look at it any certain way,” Harding said of the wholesale roster change. “At the end of the day, they have to do what’s best for them and Weber has to do what’s best for them as well. I’m excited to see where those guys go.
“I still stay in touch with all those guys. Iz (Israel Barnes), Judah (Jordan), Caleb Nero, I talk to them all the time. They’re in good spirits, they’re working and grinding, and ready to get going at their new schools.”